Fri | Nov 24, 2017

Extend ZOSO to other communities, say St James pastors

Published:Saturday | November 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
The Reverend Everton Jackson

WESTERN BUREAU:

While welcoming the recently announced extension to the zone of special operations (ZOSO) in Mt Salem, St James, some religious leaders in the parish believe the crime-fighting initiative should be extended to other communities.

Last week, the Government approved a resolution for a 60-day extension of ZOSO in Mt Salem, which was selected as the first location for the initiative in September.

Reverend Everton Jackson, pastor of the Montego Bay based Calvary Baptist Church and head of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) in St James, said ZOSO, having reaped positive benefits in Mt Salem, should now extend its focus to other volatile communities in the parish.

"What we need is a holistic plan for St James, in order to deal with the crime situation. Doing the ZOSO community by community can be effective, as we have now seen with this specific community of Mt Salem," said Jackson."The security net has to be expanded to include the so-called troubled communities with increased police presence, not just in one or two communities but in all troubled areas."

Pastor Victor Wheatley, of the Mt Salem Open Bible Church, hailed the ZOSO extension as a good thing and believes it has proven its worth by the reduction of crime in Mt. Salem.

"It's a good thing, as to my knowledge the crime rate has fallen, so it would only be good for the community if it continues," said Wheatley. "But, I do believe it should extend to other communities, not just Mt Salem."

The call to extend the ZOSO to other parts of St James has been made by several prominent stakeholders, including Reverend Kesla Forbes, of the Pitfour Gospel Chapel, who badly wants to see a stronger security presence in Granville and surrounding areas.

With some 262 murders since January, just two short of last year's record 264 murders, many stakeholders see St. James as a parish in crisis.